Set pieces came back to haunt Fylde Ladies on Halloween weekend as Stoke City earned a surprise 2-0 victory at Mill Farm.
A first-half brace from Ashleigh Hayes condemned the Coasters to their second defeat of the season as they slipped to third in the FA Women’s Premier League table.
There were three changes for the Coasters as Danielle Young, Olivia Wilkes and Chloe Adams replaced Katie Anderton, Alice Forshaw and Yasmine Swarbrick, who took their places on the bench.
Manager Luke Swindlehurst opted for a change of system with Natasha Flint and Adams leading the line, but it was Lagan Makin who was the star of the show in the early exchanges with her crosses causing havoc in the Stoke box.
Makin first supplied Flint with a low cut-back, but her effort cleared the crossbar, before whipping the ball in for Young, who controlled in the box, but couldn’t get a clear shot away.
Fylde dominated, and should have scored on the half-hour mark when Eve Kennerley picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box, but as she lined up to shoot, a slide tackle from Emily Owen helped deflect the ball wide.
Missed chances proved costly for the Coasters as Stoke scored moments later. Fylde failed to cope with a corner, and whilst an initial header was cleared off the line, Hayes nodded home the rebound.
The visitors’ lead was doubled on the stroke of half time. Another set piece was cleared by the Coasters defence, but the ball was fired back in and the unmarked Hayes headed home her second of the afternoon.
The Coasters continued to struggle to break down a resilient Stoke defence. Five minutes after the break, Flint found Makin on the edge of the area following a powerful run, but her curling effort flew narrowly wide.
With just 15 minutes left to play, it looked like Fylde had found a way back into the match. A loose ball in the box was picked up by Adams, however her first time effort was brilliantly kept out by the fingertips of Natalie Hall.
Fylde Ladies manager Luke Swindlehurst admits the defeat was ‘difficult to take’: “We really wanted the win and unfortunately we gifted Stoke two goals just before half time. We were on top for the opening half an hour so it was a difficult one to take.
“It’s very important that we learn a lesson from this and capitalise on our chances when we have momentum in a game. Otherwise is will cost you as inevitably the opposition will have chances themselves.
“Hopefully we will rediscover our rhythm this weekend against Middlesborough. We just need to refocus and keep working on our game and be fully prepared for the next match.”
Fylde Ladies: Brown, Wilkes, Forster (c), Stanfield, Young, Kennerley, Flint, Makin, Carroll, Adams, Walker.
Subs: Swarbrick, Anderton, Foster, Marsh